“Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” is one of the oldest English nursery rhymes with a very recognizable melody. Do you know its familiar tune? Here’s a hint. The melody is similar to one of our other nursery rhyme song videos on our Kids YouTube channel. Keep reading to find out the story behind “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” and to learn the title of the other familiar rhyme with the same melody.
“Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” Lyrics
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full.
One for my master,
One for my dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.
Click the image to download a beautiful PDF of the “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” Lyrics
Story of “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”
Originally written in 1731, “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” was first printed in a collection of English Rhymes called Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book in 1744. In 1930 Katherine Elwes Thomas wrote about the history of the rhyme in her book, The Real Personages of Mother Goose.
In the late 13th century in Medieval England after returning home from the Crusades, King Edward I ran out of funds. War was expensive and Edward I needed to replenish his treasury, so he imposed a new tax called the Old Custom tax on the sheep farmers. Wool was highly sought after for making cloth. The king collected a third of the wool from each farmer, and the church took another third, leaving the farmer with the final third. The tax was so successful for the king that it remained in place until the 15th century.
In the original lyrics, the shepherd boy was left with no wool for himself, having given it all to the “master and dame,” who represented the nobility of Medieval England.
Today the modern lyrics of “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” are much more uplifting. It is a rhyme about a generous shepherd boy who shares the wool from his flock with those around him.
Before you go, did you figure out the familiar melody of this nursery rhyme? There are actually two well-loved songs that use this old French melody. Sing along with both of them on our Kids YouTube channel.
Click the image to download a beautiful PDF of the “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” lyrics!
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